All chickens deserve to be happy. Loving your chickens and learning to understand their needs will help you identify the things you must do to prevent your chicken feeling worried, upset, frightened and stressed. By doing these things, you will be providing your chicken freedom from fear and distress.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Fear and Distress. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your chickens are receiving the love, understanding and companionship they need to be free from fear and distress.
To help your chicken settle in, it’s really important to:
Keep reading for more information about how to help your new chicken feel safe.
Chickens are prey animals, which means they’re always on the lookout for things that may harm them. It's important to help your new chicken feel safe and relaxed by housing them in an area away from loud noises and other pets.
The best location for your chicken coop is somewhere that is:
Chickens feel safest when they are able to get up high or can take cover under shelter. This is why your chicken coop should have lots of perches at different levels.
Find out more about the ideal environment for your chicken in our freedom from discomfort section.
When you bring your new chicken (or chickens) home, its likely you will have them in a carrier or cardboard box (with airholes of course).
Place the carrier or cardboard box in the coop and let them jump out by themselves.
Your chickens will feel more relaxed if they are able to explore their new home at their own pace.
Allow your chicken a few hours to get used to the chicken coop, then check on them again.
Every time you enter your chicken coop, do so slowly and quietly. Chickens feel safer when you make slow, predictable movements.
It is best to place their food and water close to the door, so it is easy to change it every morning. If the food is at the back of the cage, it is harder to get to, and may scare your chickens as you try to access it.
After a few days, when your chickens have settled into the chicken coop, check whether the outdoor area is safe and allow them time to explore the run (or free range) by opening the chicken coop doors.
Always make sure your chickens are able to get back into their chicken coop if they are ever scared or feel threatened.
Chickens are highly social creatures, and just like us they can have disagreements from time to time.
There could be a number of reasons why your chickens are fighting.
Chickens do have the potential to hurt each other, so it is best to contact your veterinarian if you are unsure as to why your chickens are fighting.
Chickens can become stressed easily by being handled, particularly if it’s not done correctly. Not all chickens like to be picked up, so always check with an adult first about whether it’s ok to pick up your chicken. Like most animals, the more your chickens trust you, the more likely they will be to allow you to hold them.
Your chickens will respond better to handling if you get them used to your hand patting them gently and even hand feeding them healthy treats.
The best way to pick up a chicken is by placing your hands over the top of each of your chicken’s wings, then gently lift your chicken up, gently tucking their body under your arm so they feel safer and more supported.
It’s a great idea to reward your hen with some grain or food pellets when placing them safely back down to show them that handling should not be viewed as an unpleasant or feared experience for them.